To the Editor:
Sen. Jim Davis, R-Franklin, is apparently living in a world in where up is down, less is more, and the truth in our world is the opposite in his. In a recent “Senate Update” (Aug. 17), he is talking about his accomplishments since he took office and wrote that the legislature “cut the gas tax.” The month before he took office in December 2010, the N.C. gas tax was 31.9 cents per gallon. The gasoline tax today is 37.5 cents per gallon. Maybe in Davis’ world 37.5 cents is less than 31.9 cents. This increase represents approximately $300 million more per year or almost $600 million since Davis took office. The vast majority of this increase is paid by average, middle-class citizens like you and me. I’m sure Davis will probably say he actually did cut the gas tax after he raised it.
Davis wrote himself in the Asheville Citizens-Times on Sept. 18, 2011, that, “It is a fact that teachers and teacher assistants were fully funded in the new state budget.” The N.C. Department of Public Instruction in a news release on Aug. 31, 2011, writes, “This is the first time since the Great Depression in the 1930s that North Carolina public schools have decreased the number of teacher positions during a time of student growth.” Lost educator jobs (both vacant and filled) during the 2011-12 school year that Davis is responsible for were 1,723 teachers and 2,282 teacher assistants. A total of 4,005 educator positions were eliminated that were not available to our students. Clearly the state could have budgeted and funded every one of these lost positions but chose not to, and clearly these jobs were not “fully funded in the new state budget” as Davis wrote on Sept.18.
Davis writes in Macon County News on Sept. 6 that “the facts have not fared well in Ed Morris’ hands.” He is complaining about a quote from the Department of Public Instruction website (www.ncpublicschools.org/budget) that reads, “The 2011-13 biennial state budget that was passed by the General Assembly in June 2011 contained more than $1 billion in cuts to public school funding.” He attacks me for quoting the Department of Public Instruction, but never denies that the quote from the Department of Public Instruction is factually true.
In 2008, because of eight years of disastrous policies by George Bush and the Republican Congress, the United States entered the greatest recession in the last 50 years. When President Obama came into office, the state was facing huge budget deficits because of the economic downturn. Obama was able to pass the Economic Recovery Act that allowed N.C. to receive hundreds of millions of dollars in federal economic aid that helped keep thousands of educator jobs funded until the economy improved and we could again fund these jobs with our own revenues.
Davis apparently would not have taken this federal aid and just eliminated all the teaching jobs this money funded. He and his Republican state legislature did not provide the state funds to replace the temporary federal funds when they took control in 2011. Davis apparently blames loss of education money on federal and local governments, and does not realize that it is our state government that is primarily responsible for funding public education for our children and grandchildren in our great state.
Perhaps the make believe world of Davis’ Wonderland is pleasant place to visit, but the citizens of Western North Carolina cannot afford to have a state senator who lives in “Wonderland” and does not tell the citizens the truth. Let Davis stay in Wonderland, but send John Snow to represent the 50th District on Nov. 6.
Ed Morris, MD